Cell Phone Surveillance - Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyers

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Cell Phone Surveillance Devices Being Used By Pennsylvania State Police

You probably have heard about cell phone surveillance being used before in the context of terrorism or national security, but what you may not know is that the devices used to monitor potential criminals’ data is now being used more widely to track all kinds of suspects. Here in Pennsylvania, this may even include you, suspect or not.

The Pennsylvania State Police has purchased technology similar to a device known as a StingRay. The StingRay is used by police to mimic cell phone towers so that when cell phones and other devices within a certain vicinity try to connect to the internet or to text or call, the phone is tricked into connecting with the surveillance device. The StingRay can then take data from the phone to gain information such as:

  • Personal identification and phone numbers,
  • Call and text data history,
  • Location data,
  • Subscriber payment records,
  • Numbers dialed by a connected cellphone, and
  • Outgoing calls and texts.

While police state that they only intend to monitor suspects, it is impossible for the device to filter out innocent bystanders, so if you are in the vicinity of the surveillance device, your data is being collected by default as well.

What Does This Mean for You?

Since these devices are relatively new, it is not clear what implications their uses have for personal privacy. According to the ACLU, more transparency is desperately needed in order to assure that the privacy of private citizens who are not covered in the warrants authorizing the surveillance is protected. Policies need to be put in place regarding the storage, use, and access to this “collateral” data. The public needs to be privy to what the government is doing with their information.

According to Lt. Governor Mike Stack, “it would be troubling if this kind of surveillance took innocent citizens and violated privacy,” and privacy organizations agree. As we wait to learn more about how these devices truly affect our personal privacy, it becomes more and more important to make sure that all our rights are respected, both in day-to-day life and during criminal prosecutions. If you have been accused of a crime and believe that your rights have been violated, you need to get the help of an experienced criminal lawyer to fight back. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 today for a free consultation on your case. We will always fight for your rights and privacy.